7 Toxic Co-WorkersWhen a recent survey revealed that employers ranked sloppy workers who lack attention to detail as their biggest pet peeves at the office, MainStreet couldn’t help but wonder what types of co-workers employees themselves shunned.
To find out, we talked to job experts who outlined the most common toxic co-workers found in offices everywhere and got suggestions for how to deal with their bad behavior in a professional manner. Read on to find out how to best manage the one that may be sitting next to your cubicle.
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The Office GossipWhile some people may choose to debate politics or discuss the most recent episode of Jersey Shore around the water cooler, there are also those who like to talk about other employees at any chance they get. The best way to deal with it, experts agree, is to not engage in any of their salacious conversations.
“It’s just a bad idea,” Samantha Zupan, spokesperson for job search engine Glassdoor.com, tells MainStreet. “Figure out a discreet way to tell them that you don’t feel the same way and exit the situation.”
Bruce Hurwitz, president of Hurwitz Strategic Staffing in New York City, who was unfortunate to have his own bad experience with a company gossip, also says not to get too preoccupied if someone starts spreading rumors about you, since your co-workers are likely to know that the person spinning lies.
“The good news was that people started to realize that if the gossip gossips to you about someone today, she’ll be gossiping to them about you tomorrow,” he says.
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The PessimistCharles Purdy, a career expert at job search website Monster.com, says that the Office Eeyore - that person who complains about anything or everything all day long – can be toxic in more ways than one.
“Their complaining can start to make you negative,” he says, adding that associating with that person can also make people think of you as an Eeyore as well. Purdy advises addressing this co-worker’s toxicity by asking the co-worker how he or she would address the situation that they find so irksome.
“It usually drives them away,” he says. “But it can also force them to focus on something other than their pessimism.”
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The Social ButterflyConversely, Purdy says that employees also need to be wary about the employee who seems to always be having too much fun at work. While this person’s specific effect on you can be hard to identify (since you’re probably enjoying his or her company), it can be distracting and prevent you from completing job tasks on time. Purdy says that the best way to deal with these social butterflies it to engage them … for a minute or two.
“Give them a few minutes to talk because that is healthy in the workplace,” he says. “But, after that, suggest continuing the conversation during your lunch break or over coffee when you do have the time.”
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The Corporate ClimberBeing motivated and using your ambitions as an excuse to cast all your moral scruples aside are two decidedly different things, and any person who is willing to do whatever it takes to get to the top of the corporate ladder can definitely be perceived as a toxic force in the workplace.
Zupan suggests treading lightly when dealing with one of these committed corporate climbers, but also encourages employees to stay focused on their own career paths as a means of distancing themselves.
“You may not even want the same things as this person,” she advises, adding that your success “will ultimately come down to what you accomplished,” not what your co-worker has managed to manipulate.
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The “Not my Job” PersonMost people who want to get ahead and succeed are willing to go above and beyond in the workplace, but there is always at least one person in any given office that refuses to perform a duty that isn’t explicitly stated in his or her job description. Zupan calls this the “Not My Job” person and reiterates that, like most toxic co-workers, the key to dealing with him or her is to limit your interactions.
However, if you do find yourself assigned to a project with this person, she suggests establishing your expectations at the onset. “Set up a meeting with this person beforehand to discuss how the work will be divided,” Zupan says. “You can follow up afterwards by a typing out an email of what was discussed.”
This diligence should help prevent you from being shouldered with the bulk of the workload, but if you still end up having to pick up your project partner’s slack, don’t let it get the best of you.
“Never stoop to their level,” Zupan says, explaining that most likely, such added efforts will not go unnoticed. “Remember who you are and be an example of what a strong player is.”
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The Office TattletalePurdy says that the “office tattletale,” who will report back to his or her manager about any minor indiscretion he or she may perceive in the workplace, is the most dangerous of all toxic co-workers. After all, we all may fall behind on our to-do lists once in a while, and the office tattletale will jump on it behind your back.
“They’re dangerous because there may be a measure of truth to what they are saying,” Purdy says, but since such people tend to blow things out of proportion, you cannot give them anything to work with so you should refrain from having long conversations with them.
He also says that you can preemptively minimize the damage that office tattletales – or other toxic co-workers, for that matter – can inflict by openly communicating with your boss with weekly or monthly email updates that outline the goals you have achieved and the ones you are still working toward. “It’s not about saying what someone did or didn’t do,” he points out. “It’s about reporting back to your boss about what got done.”
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The Bad BossSure, everyone likes to complain about his or her boss every now and then , but surveys support the idea that the number of ill-equipped bosses is on the rise and experts admit that in this current economic climate, employees can get stuck answering to an inadequate superior.
If you find yourself in this situation, workplace expert Debra Shigley says the first step is to identify what makes your boss bad in the first place.
“Figuring out what the issue is will help you chart your plan for dealing with it,” she told MainStreet in March. Check out her (and other experts’) tips on how to deal with a bad boss on MainStreet.
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8 Friends Who Drain Your WalletToxic people don’t only surround you in the workplace. Find out how to deal with eight friends who are toxic for your wallet in MainStreet’s breakdown!
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